Adam Silver

Adam Silver, Kyrie Irving Have “Productive” Meeting

NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Kyrie Irving met this morning in New York and they had a productive and understanding visit, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

How the meeting might impact Irving’s suspension by the Nets, and whether the league might take any action, remains to be seen. The franchise grounded its star guard for a minimum of five games after he promoted on his Twitter account a film that has been denounced as antisemitic. The Nets have reportedly asked Irving to meet six requirements before lifting the suspension.

Silver issued a statement last week about Irving’s “reckless decision” and failure to offer an “unqualified apology” denouncing the “vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.” Irving eventually deleted the tweet and apologized after being suspended.

Prior to the meeting, one report suggested that Irving may never wear a Brooklyn uniform again.

Adam Silver Intends To Meet With Kyrie Irving In Person

NBA commissioner Adam Silver doesn’t appear satisfied with the steps Kyrie Irving has taken since publishing a social media post last week promoting an antisemitic film, issuing a statement today to announce that he intends to meet with the Nets star in person to discuss the situation.

“Kyrie Irving made a reckless decision to post a link to a film containing deeply offensive antisemitic material,” Silver said. “While we appreciate the fact that he agreed to work with the Brooklyn Nets and the Anti-Defamation League to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination, I am disappointed that he has not offered an unqualified apology and more specifically denounced the vile and harmful content contained in the film he chose to publicize.

“I will be meeting with Kyrie in person in the next week to discuss this situation.”

After Irving posted a link to the film in question on Thursday, he faced increasing scrutiny in the days that followed and had a combative exchange with reporters on Saturday about the issue. He removed the post on Sunday and the Nets held him out of media sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Irving, the Nets, and the ADL issued a joint statement announcing that Kyrie and the Nets would each donate $500K “toward causes and organizations that work to eradicate hate and intolerance in our communities.”

Irving said in that statement that he opposes “all forms of hatred and oppression” and stands with marginalized communities, adding that he took responsibility for the impact his post had toward the Jewish community and didn’t believe everything in the film he publicized. However, as Silver’s announcement today notes, the Nets guard didn’t apologize for promoting the film or for the harm he caused the Jewish community.

There has been no indication in the last week that the Nets or the NBA intend to fine or suspend Irving for his actions, and today’s statement from Silver doesn’t suggest that will change. Still, it seems that the league isn’t prepared to sweep the issue under the rug so quickly.

Silver: NBA “Paying Particular Attention” To Tanking In 2022/23

Commissioner Adam Silver says the NBA is keeping a close eye on tanking this season while conceding that he understands why teams might want a better shot at landing a generational prospect like Victor Wembanyama, reports ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.

We put teams on notice,” Silver said. “We’re going to be paying particular attention to the issue this year.”

Silver made the comments in a Q&A session with Suns employees after apologizing multiple times on behalf of the league in the wake of Robert Sarver‘s workplace misconduct. Sarver is now in the process of selling the team after facing public backlash from team sponsors and others around the NBA.

According to Holmes, Silver said tanking was a “serious issue” and the NBA has had “hundreds of meetings” to address the issue. While the bottom three teams in the standings will each only have a 14% chance each of landing the top pick after the NBA flattened the lottery odds in 2019 to disincentive intentionally losing, that might not matter for the upcoming season, and Silver acknowledged that tanking will likely occur in 2022/23.

It’s something we have to watch for,” Silver said. “A draft is, in principle, a good system. But I get it, especially when there is a sense that a once-in-a-generation player is coming along, like we have this year.”

Silver didn’t mention the French center by name, sources present told Holmes, but stated that the league will tweak the draft as necessary.

Teams are smarter, they are creative, and they respond — we move, they move — so we’re always looking to see whether there’s yet a better system,” Silver added.

The commissioner said the league has considered a relegation system to address tanking, which would involve demoting the bottom two teams in the standings and promoting a couple of G League teams, similar to European soccer leagues, but said it would be “destabilizing,” per Holmes.

It would so disrupt our business model,” Silver told employees. “And even if you took two teams up from the G League, they wouldn’t be equipped to compete in the NBA.”

Addressing a question about expansion, Silver said the NBA won’t seriously consider it until it negotiates a new media rights deal in 2025, but noted that there are several cities that are strong candidates.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Westbrook, Fox, Silver, Suns

It’s only a two-game sample, but the Lakers’ shortcomings are already in full view, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Their lack of perimeter shooting and depth at the wing has been noticeable in those losses. The Lakers have made just 13-of-58 3-point attempts (22.4%) in which the nearest defender is at least four feet away. The lack of wing depth was on display when they tried to guard Kawhi Leonard with a combination of Russell Westbrook and Juan Toscano-Anderson.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Lakers need to move on from Westbrook immediately, Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times opines, arguing that they would have defeated the Clippers if he hadn’t played or been on the roster. His poor shooting, reckless play and divisive personality will continue to prove costly on a team that otherwise looks feistier than last year’s, Plaschke adds.
  • De’Aaron Fox signed a five-year extension in November 2020 and he hopes to continue his relationship with the Kings for many seasons, as he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “I’ve never been the type of person that wants a big market,” Fox said. “(So) if I can go to a small market, and then win, those are the types of things that I feel like are more important to me. It’s being able to bring winning back to the city. That is definitely my goal.”
  • Commissioner Adam Silver met with Suns employees before their game against Dallas on Wednesday and expressed regret for the misconduct of owner Robert Sarver, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Sarver is now in the process of selling the team. “I’m incredibly empathetic to what many of you have lived through,” Silver said to those employees, who gathered in the lower bowl of the team’s arena hours. “To the extent that you feel let down by the league, I apologize. I take responsibility for that.”

Pacific Notes: Sarver, Sale Reaction, Lakers, Kings

Robert Sarver has announced his intention to sell the Suns and the NBA’s Phoenix Mercury, but it’s not likely to be a fast process, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN. Sources tell Shelburne that it could take months to go through the process of getting a new ownership group in place. Sarver has been suspended for a full year, so vice chairman and minority owner Sam Garvin will continue to run the team until a sale is complete.

Although Sarver only owns about one-third of the franchise, he has the authority to sell the team because of his role as managing partner, sources tell Baxter Holmes of ESPN (Twitter link). Sarver, who has owned the Suns since 2004, is expected to profit significantly from the sale, with the potential price possibly topping $2 billion.

Appearing on NBA Today (video link), Holmes relayed a statement from one Suns staff member that read, “To be honest it just felt like justice! Like we can finally heal and know we won’t be working under that type of leadership. I swear there will be tears when senior executives are held accountable!”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Commissioner Adam Silver and NBPA president CJ McCollum have both endorsed Sarver’s choice. “I fully support the decision by Robert Sarver to sell the Phoenix Suns and Mercury,” Silver tweeted shortly after Sarver’s announcement. “This is the right next step for the organization and community.” McCollum echoed those thoughts in his statement, writing, “We thank Mr. Sarver for making a swift decision that was in the best interest of our sports community.”
  • The Lakers‘ trade talks with the Pacers continued this week, but they’re not willing to meet Indiana’s demand of two unprotected first-round picks, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). The Pacers have been seen as a possible destination for Russell Westbrook, with L.A. hoping to land Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in return. The Lakers only have two first-rounders that they can offer — in 2027 and 2029 — and Charania expects the team to be cautious about moving them. He points out that L.A. has a “long runway” with Westbrook and can wait to see how the season plays out rather than rushing into a deal. Pacers general manager Chad Buchanan said earlier today that Turner will be with the team when the season begins.
  • Kings general manager Monte McNair has constructed this year’s roster around two players on their second NBA contracts, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, notes James Ham of Kings Beat. Ham says it’s a welcome change from continually trying to build the franchise around young prospects.

Pacific Notes: Iguodala, Schröder, Westbrook, Sarver

The Warriors anticipate that longtime veteran leader Andre Iguodala will announce his return to the club, writes Marc Stein on Substack. Iguodala has previously suggested he will publicly reveal his decision during an upcoming episode of his podcast Point Forward, co-hosted by his former Sixers teammate Evan Turner.

Stein reports that Golden State expects Iguodala, who has won four titles with the team, will be back for his 19th NBA season in 2022/23 rather than opting to retire, but is prepared for either outcome. The Warriors top off their 2022 training camp earlier than most other teams, as they will be playing exhibition games abroad.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Elsewhere in his latest Substack piece, Stein suggests that the Lakers consider Russell Westbrook and new addition Dennis Schröder to be their top two point guards. Sources inform Stein that the Lakers see the 6’1″ Patrick Beverley, who started as a point guard alongside shooting guard D’Angelo Russell last season with the Timberwolves, as a swingman who can defend and shoot from long range, rather than a point guard, heading into his 11th NBA season. Stein writes that L.A. intends to use Kendrick Nunn, Austin Reaves, and Lonnie Walker at the shooting guard or small forward position instead of point guard.
  • Earlier today, Schröder led his native Germany to a win over Poland to secure a bronze medal in this year’s EuroBasket contest, per Eurohoops. The 6’3″ Lakers point guard scored 26 points on 7-of-10 shooting. “That was the goal of the federation, of coach Herbert and for the team and it’s an unbelievable feeling to win a medal in a Eurobasket,” Schröder said after the game. Schröder’s performance in tournament play this summer reportedly helped his cause in free agency.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver seemed uncomfortable at being forced to defend the misbehavior of temporarily suspended Suns team owner Robert Sarver in a Wednesday press conference, writes Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe. Sarver has been banned from having any role with either Phoenix basketball club he owns, the Suns or the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, for the 2022/23 season.

Robert Sarver Notes: PayPal, City Of Phoenix, Silver

PayPal, whose logo is featured on the Suns‘ uniforms as part of the NBA’s jersey sponsorship program, issued a statement on Friday announcing that the company won’t continue its agreement with the franchise beyond the 2022/23 season as long as owner Robert Sarver remains involved with the team.

[RELATED: Suns’ Robert Sarver Fined $10MM, Suspended One Year]

“We have reviewed the report of the NBA league’s independent investigation into Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver and have found his conduct unacceptable and in conflict with our values,” PayPal CEO and president Dan Schulman said in a statement. “PayPal’s sponsorship with the Suns is set to expire at the end of the current season. In light of the findings of the NBA’s investigation, we will not renew our sponsorship should Robert Sarver remain involved with the Suns organization, after serving his suspension.”

PayPal’s announcement comes on the heels of Jahm Najafi, one of the Suns’ vice chairmen and minority stakeholders, calling for Sarver’s resignation.

As Baxter Holmes of ESPN relays (via Twitter), Phoenix mayor Kate Gallego and some city council members also put out a statement announcing that staffers will open an investigation into the situation to see if there’s any actions that city leaders can take in response to the report on Sarver’s misconduct.

Here’s more on the Sarver saga:

  • While many league sources who spoke to Howard Beck of this week expressed frustration over Sarver’s relatively light punishment and commissioner Adam Silver‘s subsequent explanation, it’s possible the one-year suspension and $10MM fine won’t be the “final word,” Beck writes. As Beck observes, if NBA players, the public, and corporate sponsors continue to put pressure on the league to take stronger action, it’s possible the Suns’ minority owners and/or the other 29 team owners will in turn put pressure on Sarver to sell the team.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic views Silver’s Wednesday press conference as the lowlight of his tenure as commissioner, suggesting that Silver seemed unprepared for some of the tougher questions he faced and that his performance “had the impact of pouring gasoline on a brush fire.” However, Hollinger believes that Silver could salvage the situation by spending Sarver’s one-year suspension working behind the scenes to try to get the Suns owner to sell.
  • Although Silver can’t force Sarver to sell his team, he could’ve imposed a suspension longer than one year on the Suns owner, Beck observes. It’s possible the NBA was wary of a potential lawsuit if it had handed Sarver a multiyear ban, Beck adds.

Adam Silver Addresses Suspension Of Suns’ Owner

The law firm that conducted the investigation into Suns owner Robert Sarver saved him a harsher penalty by determining that his use of slurs “was not motivated by racial animus,” writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

Speaking after today’s Board of Governors meeting, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told reporters that he would have imposed more serious sanctions against Sarver if not for that finding. Sarver was suspended for one year and fined $10MM following a nearly year-long investigation of his workplace behavior.

“I think if they had made findings that, in fact, his conduct was motivated by racial animus, absolutely that would have had an impact on the ultimate outcome here,” Silver said. “But that’s not what they found.”

Silver drew a distinction between Sarver’s actions and those of former Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was banned for life and fined $2.5MM when his racist comments were brought to light in 2014. The commissioner could have imposed a longer suspension for Sarver, but the $10MM fine is the maximum allowed under league rules. Silver said there were no discussions with the Board of Governors about forcing Sarver to sell the team.

Sarver also cooperated with the investigation and issued an apology for his actions once the findings were announced. Sterling’s case was more contentious, and he eventually filed a $1 billion federal lawsuit against the NBA.

“This case is very different,” Silver said. “It’s not that one was captured on tape and the other isn’t. … Mr. Sarver ultimately acknowledged his behavior.”

Working in Sarver’s favor, Silver added, were several anonymous details that couldn’t be included in the investigative report that was released Tuesday, along with positive interviews with people that Sarver has worked with in his 18 years of owning the Suns and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA.

“There were these terrible things,” Silver said. “There are also many, many people with very positive things to say about him through this process. And ultimately, I took all of that into account in making the decision that the one-year suspension plus the fine was appropriate.”

Silver confirmed that Sarver will be welcomed back to the NBA when his suspension ends in September 2023. However, he said the league will be watching Sarver closely once he’s reinstated.

“I don’t have the right to take away his team,” Silver said. “I don’t want to rest on that legal point because of course there could be a process to take away someone’s team in this league. It’s very involved, and I ultimately made the decision that it didn’t rise to that level. But to me, the consequences are severe here on Mr. Sarver.”

Also at the press conference, Silver commented on tampering investigations involving the Knicks and Sixers, saying the actions were a result of the “tick tock chronology around sort of when signings are permissible and the announcements of those signings and the information that came out about it,” tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic.

Silver said the investigations were launched by the league office and weren’t a result of complaints by rival teams (Twitter link). He added that the league hopes to resolve both cases “in the next few weeks.”

Adam Silver Unhappy With Durant Situation

NBA commissioner Adam Silver isn’t happy about Kevin Durant‘s trade request after signing an extension last season, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes.

Silver said that players need to “meet their end of the bargain” after a franchise provides them with long-term security.

“This needs to be a two-way street,” Silver said. “Teams provide enormous security and guarantees to players, and the expectation in return is that they’ll meet their end of the bargain. There’s always conversations that go on behind closed doors between players and representatives and teams, but we don’t like to see players requesting trades and we don’t like to see it playing out the way it is.”

Silver said there will be negotiations with the Players’ Association regarding possible remedies to discourage players from seeking a trade after signing multi-year contracts, Brian Lewis of the New York Post tweets.

“Its one of those issues that as we move into this collective bargaining cycle – we intend to discuss with our players association and see if there are remedies for this…We don’t want to see it playing out the way it is now,” he said.

Silver also addressed a number of other topics after the Board of Governors meeting on Tuesday:

  • With load management increasing every season, Silver would be in favor of rewarding players contractually for playing more often. “I’m all in favor of guaranteed contracts,” he said. “But maybe that on top of your typical guaranteed contracts, some incremental money should be based on number of games played and results of those games.”
  • He’s pleasantly surprised that league revenue topped $10 billion for the first time and basketball-related income reached a record $8.9 billion. “The numbers did surprise me to a certain degree because it exceeded projections, and the projections represent where we think our business is going,” Silver said. “I think it’s quite remarkable from where we came 2 1/2 years ago.”
  • The league is nearing “the last stage” of its investigation into the conduct of Suns owner Robert Sarver, Reynolds tweets.
  • Symptomatic persons will still test for COVID, but Silver could also see “pre-COVID protocols” becoming more of the norm again, Reynolds adds in another tweet.
  • Silver favors the age limit for the draft dropping from 19 to 18, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets, and is “optimistic” that it could happen during the next collective bargaining cycle.

Adam Silver Discusses Balancing Mid-Season Tournament With NBA Tradition

NBA commissioner Adam Silver has been a long-time proponent for adding a mid-season tournament, but he recognizes there would be a difficult balance between promoting the new event and maintaining the importance of the regular season. Silver discussed the challenges involved during an interview with Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports.

No matter when the tournament would take place, it will require a reduction in the regular season schedule, which has been set at 82 games per team since the 1967/68 season.

“The last thing I’m trying to suggest is that we don’t value our current regular season, it’s enormously valuable,” Silver said. “These teams care a lot about home-court advantage, and people can’t get enough of NBA basketball.”

A new tournament would be modeled after similar events in European soccer, providing all the teams with a break during the season and a new prize to play for. To be implemented, it would require agreement from the players union and two-thirds majority approval from the Board of Governors.

Silver provided a tournament update last week during his annual NBA Finals press conference, but admitted “we’re not there yet” as far as working out the details.

In his interview with Goodwill, Silver promised that regardless of what schedule changes are required, each team will continue to host every other team at least once per season.

“I think that’s critically important,” he said. “Everybody wants to see, even if it’s a cross-country trip, that wherever that player is on that team that plays in the other conference, they should have the opportunity to see that player at least once.”

Silver recognizes that as a new event, it may take some time for the tournament to catch on with both fans and players. The public may view is as just another event on an already-crowded winter sports calendar, while athletes may see it as a chance to rest if the stakes aren’t high enough.

“I’ll say I recognize that [if] we do that, it’s not going to be an overnight success,” Silver admitted. “Because the obvious question, whether it’s from the players or for the fans will be, ‘What? Why should we think this is meaningful? Playing in-season tournaments?’ My response is going to be, ‘I get that.’ But I think we can create new traditions, obviously, things change over time. And so that’s something I’m very focused on right now.”